The NY Times (hardly an unimpeachable source, in my opinion) had a piece yesterday about coal capture. Some tidbits:

There are at least a dozen proposals on Capitol Hill for sequestering all the carbon from coal burning, and the Senate Energy Committee began hearings last month on how to refocus research on the problem. It’s a challenge that has captured the attention of engineers across the country who hope to perfect a clean-coal technology that could provide climate-friendly energy for hundreds of years at modest cost.

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The energy agency is focused on a generating technology called Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle, or I.G.C.C. This technology uses generating stations to burn gas in a turbine, which powers a rotating shaft connected to a generator. Then the exhaust gases are used to boil water, which makes steam to turn a second turbine, to make more electricity. In the coal variant, the gas is created by cooking the coal, in a low-oxygen environment, into a gaseous mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen.

Two such plants are operating in the United States and more are planned, but they do not separate their carbon. The Energy Department has a program for building I.G.C.C. plants that would separate their carbon.

Under the program, called FutureGen, new I.G.C.C. plants would make the same gas from coal, but the carbon monoxide would react with steam to make carbon dioxide and more hydrogen. The hydrogen would go to the turbine, leaving the carbon dioxide to be sequestered.

The agency’s push toward finding places to build those plants and partners to do the work may not be moving as fast as the political momentum to limit carbon emissions, and FutureGen has won a nickname — NeverGen — from the utility executives who are wary of such partnerships.

In addition, the technology cannot be retrofitted on traditional plants, called pulverized coal plants, and may even be hard to apply to existing I.G.C.C. plants that were not designed for capture.

Read the whole thing.

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